By :Glenn Greenwald
As a litigator who practiced for more than a decade in federal and state courts across the country, I’ve long been aware of the inequities that pervade the American justice system. The rich enjoy superior legal representation and therefore much better prospects for success in court than the poor.
The powerful are treated with far more deference by judges than the powerless. The same cultural, socioeconomic, and demographic biases that plague society generally also infect the legal process. Few people who have had any interaction with the justice system would dispute this.
Still, only when I began regularly writing about politics did I realize that the problem extends well beyond such inequities. The issue isn’t just that those with political influence and financial power have some advantages in our judicial system. It is much worse than that. Those with political and financial clout are routinely allowed to break the law with no legal repercussions whatsoever. Often they need not even exploit their access to superior lawyers because they don’t see the inside of a courtroom in the first place—not even when they get caught in the most egregious criminality. The criminal justice system is now almost exclusively reserved for ordinary Americans, who are routinely subjected to harsh punishments even for the pettiest of offenses.
The wiretapping scandal of 2005 provides a perfect illustration. In December of that year, the New York Times revealed that officials in George W. Bush’s administration were eavesdropping on Americans’ telephone calls and e-mails without warrants or judicial oversight: a felony punishable by up to five years in prison and a ten-thousand-dollar fine for each offense. The lawbreaking could not have been clearer, yet virtually nobody in the political and media class was willing to call those acts “criminal,” much less to demand legal investigations or prosecutions. Read More
Read Greenwald interview at Democracy Now.
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